I have managed to not go to Joshua Tree on 2 previous occasions. Both times I had been on road trips which went nearby but not quite close enough or with enough time to actually see it. This time, however, I was not going to miss out. I spent some time in La Quinta, just near Palm Springs which, it turns out, is only about an hour from the entrance to the park.
Daisy and I woke up and headed out first thing in the morning. We only had the day but, honestly, if you have limited time, it is a great place to see as you can drive through and stop where ever you want. Much of the beautiful scenery is only a short walk from the well appointed parking lots along the way. Of course, it would have been great to have camped over night but we did not have the time.
We made our way from the South entrance and stopped at the visitors centre to get some tips on what to see. We made our way North taking in The Hidden Valley, Barker Dam and Skull Rock. At each of these places it is possible to hike a well worn trail to get a look at the beautiful surroundings. We chose to go off the path a few time and climb some rocks in order to get a better view but much of what we did was very manageable not too strenuous. There are more advanced hikes for longer distances over much tougher terrain if you so choose.
It takes about 2 hours to drive through the park on the route we took, that is if you don’t stop. The Joshua trees don’t really start to appear until you reach the North West part of the park and the look spectacular as the stretch out before you in every direction. They unusual shape and interesting angle the branches form put me in mind of a Dr Seuss cartoon and from a distance the trees don’t look real!
About an hour before sunset we headed to Keys View to see the sun go down. You are able to drive right to the top of this 5000ft mountain and walk a short distance on a well maintained path to get an incredible view of the surround landscape. I would recommend getting up there early if you want to find a good parking spot and a quite spot on the side of the mountain to watch the show!
I am so glad I got to make this trip. It has been on my bucket list for years and I was not disappointed. The mountains, hills and rock formations of Joshua Tree seem to rise from nowhere out of a baron plateau of rocks and harsh desert. I felt so small standing next to some of the gigantic natural features. However, there is so much more for me to see and I can’t wait to go back.